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The footage from the DVD recorder is most likely highly compressed (mpeg ?)
This will be the cause of your issue and there is no way around it.
Maybe check the bit rate settings...increase your min, target, and max...that could help
>I am in way over my head...does anyone have any tips?
You won't like it, but, you could hire someone who knows what they're doing.
or she could get some help from someone prepared to be less harsh.
While your original footage was compromised by beginning life as an mpeg, you should not be getting the extreme blockiness you are seeing with the DVD. That being said, don't expect to be able to maintain the same quality as your original footage.
A couple of questions. Does the material look OK playing from the timeline? How are you exporting to Encore? What are your exact settings (everything and be sure to scroll all the way down...VBR, CBR, data-rate, etc)? What is your burn speed? What kind of DVD media are you using? What kind of device do you plan to play the DVD back on?
If all else fails, try a better encoder like TMPGEnc ($60?).